The Suspicious Death of Pat Tillman
Three closely spaced shots to the forehead...
Aug 1: "The Army has officially placed the blame for the incident on retired General Philip Kensinger Jr., who was censured Tuesday for a failure of leadership. Kensinger refused to appear before the committee Wednesday and said that he would not comply with a subpoena for his testimony. US marshals have reportedly been unable to track down Kensinger to serve him with the Congressional subpoena." (more)
Wes Clark on MSNBC Countdown speaks on Pat Tillman Death
New Documents released 7/26/07
July 26: "Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press... The doctors- whose names were blacked out- said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.
The documents show that a doctor who autopsied Tillman's body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead. The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army's Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army's Criminal Investigation Division if the CID would consider opening a criminal case.
'He said he talked to his higher headquarters and they had said no,' the doctor testified.
"Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.
"The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman's death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn't recall details of his actions.
"Also according to the documents, investigators pressed officers and soldiers on a question Mrs. Tillman has been asking all along.
'Have you, at any time since this incident occurred back on April 22, 2004, have you ever received any information even rumor that Cpl. Tillman was killed by anybody within his own unit intentionally?' an investigator asked then-Capt. Richard Scott..."
July 13, 2007: White House is Stonewalling Congress on Pat Tillman's Death
White House Denies Request for Documents in Ex-NFL Player's Death, July 14, 2007; Washington Post:
"The White House has refused to give Congress documents about the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman, with White House counsel Fred F. Fielding saying that certain papers relating to discussion of the friendly-fire shooting "implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests."'
House committee accuses Bush administration of withholding key documents...
"...The latest exchange could set the stage for a showdown between the legislative branch and the presidency. White House counsel Fred Fielding last month cited "executive branch confidentiality interests" in refusing to provide some papers, according to a letter made public by the committee. It is the same argument the White House used last month when it rejected congressional subpoenas for documents in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys."
Reps Tom Davis and Henry Waxman rejected the executive branch confidentiality argument Friday, saying "these are not appropriate reasons for withholding the documents from the committee."
Latest: Boykin, Army, Deny Reports Predator Filmed the Killing
Read the update below (here)
April 24- Hearings in Congress today
Latest from MSNBC at midday
Update April 10, 2007:
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is examining Tillman's death. Members of the family and the department of defense will testify April 24.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D. Los Angeles, is chairman of the Committee. Rep. Mike Honda, D. San Jose, supported the Tillman family's call for an independent investigation by Congress.
Update March 28, 2007:
The military's latest investigation is done. 9 officers participated in the coverup of the fact that Tillman was killed by friendly fire. No punishments were recommended.
The commander of Tillman's 75th Ranger Regiment however, Colonel [at the time] James Nixon was promoted to Brigadier General and Director of Operations at the Center for Special Operations at Florida's MacDill Air Force Base. I guess Rumsfeld thought he'd done an outstanding job.
There's still no answer to other troubling questions such as how Tillman could have been hit by "three closely spaced shots to the forehead" in a supposedly "chaotic firefight" in conditions of "poor visibility". That kind of kill is classic sniper and scope work. Or why his journal, in which he recorded every day his growing disgust with the Iraq War and the administration's policies, was immediately destroyed, along with his uniform.
We have confirmed that Tillman had arranged to meet with a leading anti-war intellectual, Noam Chomsky, upon his return stateside. One can imagine the panic in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the vision of the much trumpeted poster-boy hero of the War on Terror returning home and speaking out against the evil charade of the War.
That aspect, combined with the nature of the wounds, the destruction of evidence, the first-level coverup, and the dream promotion of the commander in charge... well, you see where this is going.
No wonder Mary Tillman, Pat's mom, has denounced the investigation report. In this video interview, she demands a congressional investigation, and says it "cannot be ruled out" that her son was murdered.
The Suspicious Death of Pat Tillman
Pat Tillman was a straight-A football hero who'd turned down a $3.6 million NFL scholarship to join the Army and fight AlQaeda after 9/11, much to the public delight of Bush and Rumsfeld.
Following training he was sent to Iraq, where he didn't like what he saw; a fellow soldier remembers, "He said, 'You know, this war is so f-ing illegal. And we all said, Yeah. That's who he was. He totally was against Bush.
Another soldier in the platoon, who asked not to be identified, said Pat urged him to vote for Bush's Democratic opponent in the 2004 election, Sen. John Kerry.
"He was an avid reader whose interests ranged from history books on World War II and Winston Churchill to works of leftist Noam Chomsky, a favorite author." (ref)
His mother Mary Tillman said a friend of Pat's arranged a private meeting with Chomsky, the antiwar author, to take place after his return from Afghanistan.
After his tour of duty in Iraq, he was sent to Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter he was killed; the military trumpeted his 'sacrifice' and heroism under fire. In fact we learned five weeks later he had been killed during a particularly murky 'friendly fire' incident.
"According to testimony, Tillman, who along with others on the hill waved his arms and yelled 'Cease fire!', set off a smoke grenade to identify his group as fellow soldiers. There was a momentary lull in the firing, and he and the soldier next to him, thinking themselves safe, relaxed, stood up and started talking. But the shooting resumed. Tillman was hit in the wrist with shrapnel and in his body armor with numerous bullets.
The soldier next to him testified, "I could hear the pain in his voice as he called out, 'Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat f*ing Tillman, dammit!' He said this over and over until he stopped, having been hit by three bullets in the forehead, killing him."
A soldier who on April 23 burned Tillman's bullet riddled body armor- which would have been evidence in a friendly-fire investigation, testified that he did so because there was no doubt it was friendly fire that killed Tillman. Two days later, Tillman's uniform and vest also were burned because they were soaked in blood and considered 'a biohazard'.
In testimony on Nov. 14, the officer who conducted the first investigation said that he thought some Rangers could have been charged with "criminal intent".
The shooters saw only "shapes", an Army Ranger-appointed investigator wrote, and all of them directed bursts of machine gun fire "without positively identifying the shapes."
However, the medical examiner said Tillman had been killed by "three head shots to the forehead in a pattern about the size of a half dollar".
That doesn't sound like the chaotic and confused firing described by the investigators. In fact, it sounds like an expert sniper's shooting. And if the shooter could do that, it's obvious they saw who they were killing. The whole thing stinks.
"There have been so many discrepancies so far that it's hard to know what to believe," said his mother, Mary Tillman, a San Jose teacher. "There are too many murky details." The files the family received from the Army in March were heavily censored. "Pat had high ideals about the country; that's why he did what he did" ... "The military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of disrespect. The fact that he was the ultimate team player and he watched his own men kill him is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. The fact that they lied about it afterward is disgusting."
Pat's father, Patrick Tillman Sr., a San Jose lawyer, said he is furious about what he found in the volumes of witness statements and investigative documents the Army has given to the family. He decried what he calls a "botched homicide investigation" and blames high-ranking Army officers for presenting "outright lies" to the family and to the public.
"After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this," Patrick Tillman said. "They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy."
Patrick Tillman Sr. believes he will never get the truth, and he says he is resigned to that now. But he wants everyone in the chain of command, from Tillman's direct supervisors to the one-star general who conducted the latest investigation, to face discipline for "dishonorable acts." He also said the soldiers who killed his son have not been adequately punished.
"Maybe lying's not a big deal anymore," he said. "Pat's dead, and this isn''t going to bring him back. But these guys should have been held up to scrutiny, right up the chain of command, and no one has."
Again: the medical examiner's report said Tillman was killed by three bullets closely spaced in the forehead. He never had that meeting with Chomsky. I wonder what he would have told him. "This war is so f**ing illegal"... ?
James Buchanan wrote in the European American News on Sept 29, 2005:
"... it seems likely that the Bush administration caught wind of the meeting between Chomsky and Tillman. This situation would almost certainly lead to a massive publicity incident with headlines of 'Hero Condemns Iraq War and Bush'. This pending disaster for the neocons may have driven them to take extreme measures. Obviously the neocons didn't want a war hero turning against George Bush (who evaded serving in the Vietnam War when it was his turn to fight). The big question is: Would the neocons order the assassination of a disgruntled war hero to avoid a publicity fiasco?"
Good question. American Hero opposed to the Iraq War. Three closely spaced shots to the forehead. Murky coverup. Stonewalling. No answers. Accident?
Robert Sheer at TruthDig has a page of resources on Pat Tillman's death .
WaPo: Tillman's Parents Are Critical of Army
SF Chronicle: Family Demands The Truth- New inquiry may expose events that led to Pat Tillman's death
Pat Tillman: Anatomy Of A Disgrace
First coverup story: heroic death in enemy fire-"Ex-NFL Star Tillman makes Ultimate Sacrifice'"
Was Hero Pat Tillman Murdered by Neocons?
MSNBC: Is there Predator Footage?
"Was a Predator drone flying overhead when Tillman was killed? Did it videotape the incident?
The military says no such videotape exists, but members of Congress hoped to elicit the new information at the hearing.
The most recent investigation by the Army, released last month, documented a monthslong search for the video. The undertaking "suggests the distinct possibility that a Predator drone overflew the battle scene, and, if it did, may have captured yet-unrevealed material information," said Daniel Kohns, a spokesman for Rep. Mike Honda, a Democrat who represents the San Jose, Calif., area where Tillman grew up.
The drone, equipped with a video camera in its nose, had been flown by the CIA over Afghanistan in search of Osama bin Laden for several years. After Sept. 11, 2001, the little plane also was outfitted with missiles and used to kill al-Qaida leaders.
An Air Force commando attached to Tillman's Army Ranger platoon testified that as the incident unfolded, he heard the unmanned reconnaissance plane's distinctive propeller buzz overhead.
His belief was later confirmed by a comrade at their tactical operations center, he said. "I was told it was over us during the ambush," this airman testified. His name was blacked out of documents the Army released last month.
Moments after hearing that attack on his fellow Army Rangers, the airman radioed a command center and requested air cover. No attack aircraft arrived to help.
His recollection of the Predator was enough to spark a search for any video the drone might have gathered. That search spanned six months, took investigators close to the highest reaches of the Pentagon and touched upon some of the most sensitive technology the United States possesses.
In September, Army security officials directed that investigators' memos seeking Predator footage be classified "SECRET/NOFORN," meaning no foreigners would be permitted to see the memos.
Special agents for the Army Criminal Investigation Command and the Defense Department inspector general's office spent much of last summer trying to track down the video - or determine whether it existed. Among other agencies, the agents reached out to "Psychological Operations, the Pentagon ... regarding the Predator footage which was taken during the Tillman incident."
A former U.S. commander in Afghanistan told investigators that "the chances of footage being taken at the incident location during that time frame is minimal."
Still, the investigators met with Lt. Gen. William Boykin*, the Pentagon's deputy undersecretary for intelligence, who said "he would coordinate with the Central Intelligence Agency and ensure a review for the requested imagery is conducted."
In October, however, the conclusive results came back from Navy Vice Admiral Eric Olson, deputy commander of the Special Operations Command: No video of the friendly fire episode was "known or suspected to exist."
Read the complete MSNBC report: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18287244/
* Lt. Gen. William Boykin, True Believer, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, known for his boast: "I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol". Of Bush Boykin said: "Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. Why is he there? And I tell you this morning that he's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."